Ancient Wisdom

The Mysterious Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism, also known as Zarathustra’s teachings, is one of the world’s oldest known religions and the very first monotheistic religions in history.  It originated in ancient Persia (modern-day Iran) and revolves around the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra). Zoroastrianism was the dominant faith of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Developed centuries earlier by the prophet Zoroaster, this Persian religion spread across the empire.  Zoroastrianism has had a notable influence on various aspects of Judaism, particularly during the Persian period (539-333 BCE) when the Jewish people were under Persian rule.   This earlier Persian mythology has similarities with the Vedic tradition that would eventually develop into Hinduism. The Persians themselves were an Aryan people who emigrated to Iran from other parts of Asia, bringing this fledgling belief system with them. Believers have the freedom to make good or bad choices; they were exhorted by Zoroaster to think good thoughts, say good words, and do good deeds.  The religion nowadays is patrilineal, meaning it is passed down through the father. One cannot convert to Zoroastrianism. This practice makes Zoroastrianism a “closed religion,” and as a result, the religion is dying out.

Here are some key concepts found in Zoroastrianism:

Truth is the best good and it is happiness. Happiness (is) to him, who (is) truthful for the sake of truth.
  1. Dualism: Zoroastrianism is based on the belief in a fundamental duality between good and evil. Ahura Mazda, the supreme god, represents the forces of goodness, truth, and light, while Angra Mainyu (Ahriman) embodies the forces of evil, falsehood, and darkness. The struggle between these forces takes place within both the spiritual and material realms.
  2. Ethical Teachings: Zoroastrianism places a strong emphasis on ethical conduct and moral responsibility. Followers are encouraged to choose good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, striving to align themselves with the principles of truth, justice, and righteousness.
  3. Cosmic Battle: Zoroastrianism depicts an ongoing cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil. It is believed that Ahura Mazda will ultimately triumph over Angra Mainyu, leading to the ultimate triumph of righteousness and the restoration of a perfect world.
  4. Fire and Rituals: Fire is considered a sacred symbol in Zoroastrianism, representing purity and divine presence. Zoroastrian rituals often involve the use of fire, including the veneration of a sacred fire in the temples. Fire temples are important centers of worship and spiritual practice.
  5. Fravashi: Zoroastrianism teaches the concept of Fravashi, which refers to the divine essence or guardian spirit of each individual. The Fravashi acts as a guiding force and protector throughout a person’s life.
  6. Eschatology: Zoroastrianism contains beliefs about the end times and the final judgment. It is believed that, after death, individuals are judged based on their thoughts, words, and deeds. Those who have lived righteous lives will be rewarded with eternal bliss in a paradisiacal realm, while the wicked will face punishment.
  7. Ahura Mazda’s Creation: Zoroastrianism explains the creation of the world as an intentional act of Ahura Mazda. It teaches that Ahura Mazda created the universe and everything in it with wisdom, purpose, and order.
  8. Influence on Other Religions: Zoroastrianism has had a significant influence on various religious traditions, particularly on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Concepts such as dualism, judgment, and the belief in an afterlife can be traced back to Zoroastrian influence. Zoroastrianism’s emphasis on monotheism, with its belief in a single supreme deity (Ahura Mazda), likely influenced Jewish monotheistic beliefs. This influence contributed to the solidification and development of monotheism within Judaism, reinforcing the idea of a single, all-powerful God.

Zoroastrianism’s teachings about the final judgment and the resurrection of the dead influenced Jewish eschatological beliefs. The concepts of a future messianic era, resurrection, and a final judgment became more prominent within Jewish thought during and after the Persian period.

Zoroastrianism’s emphasis on ethical conduct and the importance of living a righteous life likely influenced Jewish ethical teachings. The focus on choosing good over evil and the belief in moral responsibility align with Jewish teachings on ethical behavior and the pursuit of justice.

Zoroastrianism introduced the concept of a celestial hierarchy with various angelic beings, each with specific roles and responsibilities. This influenced Jewish angelology, as seen in the development of angelic hierarchies and the belief in angelic beings such as archangels.

In Zoroastrianism, the angelology and hierarchy of angelic beings play a significant role in understanding the spiritual realm and the divine order. The Amesha Spentas, also known as the “Bounteous Immortals,” are six divine beings who are closest to the supreme god, Ahura Mazda. They represent various aspects of creation and embody virtues such as truth, righteousness, good thinking, devotion, dominion, and immortality.

The Yazatas are a group of celestial beings who assist Ahura Mazda and act as guardians and protectors. They are associated with specific aspects of creation, such as the elements, celestial bodies, natural phenomena, and abstract concepts. Examples of Yazatas include Mithra (associated with the sun), Tishtrya (associated with rain), and Verethragna (associated with victory and righteousness).

Fravashis are considered the divine essence or guardian spirits of individuals. Each person has a Fravashi that is connected to the divine realm and represents their true spiritual nature. Fravashis guide and protect individuals throughout their lives.

The Amahraspands, also known as the “Beneficent Immortals,” are a group of divine beings who assist in maintaining order and protecting humanity. They are associated with various virtues and are believed to play a role in the ultimate victory of good over evil.

Sraosha is an important angelic figure in Zoroastrianism. He is considered the embodiment of obedience and righteousness, serving as a messenger and warrior of Ahura Mazda. Sraosha is responsible for upholding divine law and battling against evil forces. While Zoroastrianism recognizes the existence of these angelic beings, it is important to note that the emphasis is placed on the worship and devotion to Ahura Mazda, the supreme god, rather than on the individual angelic beings themselves. The angels are considered intermediaries between humanity and the divine, aiding in the fulfillment of Ahura Mazda’s divine plan and maintaining cosmic order.

In Zoroastrianism, the emphasis is more on the ethical dualism between good and evil, the worship of Ahura Mazda (the supreme god), and the role of celestial beings such as the Amesha Spentas and Yazatas. The focus is on ethical conduct, devotion, and the cosmic battle between good and evil forces.

These concepts form the foundation of Zoroastrian belief and practice. Zoroastrianism offers a framework for understanding the nature of the universe, the role of humanity, and the eternal struggle between good and evil. It encourages ethical living, personal responsibility, and the pursuit of righteousness in the face of adversity.

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